State to apply herbicide today to snakehead-infested waters

August 18, 2002|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

State officials are expected to apply two types of herbicide to three ponds in Crofton today as part of their plan to kill the northern snakehead fish that infest at least one of the ponds.

The owners of the ponds -- two separate business entities -- have each signed leases with the state Department of Natural Resources through the end of the year that will allow scientists to treat the ponds. The herbicides will reduce oxygen levels in the water, preparing the ponds for the introduction of poison to kill the fish.

The 1691 Limited Partnership, which owns two smaller ponds, signed a lease with the state yesterday, said John Surrick, a DNR spokesman. The MacQuilliam Organization, which owns the large pond in which the voracious fish were discovered in June, signed Thursday.

Although it is unclear whether any snakeheads have migrated to the two smaller ponds -- the Yangtze River native can breathe air, slither on its fins and survive on land for up to three days -- scientists will treat those ponds with herbicide as a precaution.

Scientists need to kill the plants in the ponds first before applying the fish poison rotenone, which proved lethal to juvenile snakeheads in recent tests, Surrick said. Scientists have yet to decide when the rotenone will be applied.

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